• As exceptional as Meryl Streep's character was at tending to her own kitchen garden, she just couldn't rid herself of her pesky ex husband in 'It's Complicated", although she did have a good source of fresh produce to compensate.

  • Image credit: Amelia Fullerton

  • Image credit: Byron Smith.

Grow your own herb garden at home and save

Byron Smith of the very slick Urban Growers, shares his tips on starting your own herb collection – and keeping them alive.

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Are you sick of buying a bunch of fresh herbs from the supermarket, and only end up using a few sprigs, while the rest of sits forgotten in the fridge? Perhaps it’s time you try your hand at growing some of your own. Perhaps you’ve already tried and they’ve died?

Grow the herbs yourself will be the freshest that you can get, plus it’ll save you a few bucks, too. Don’t fret; it’s not as difficult as you think, it’s just a matter of some TLC.

Urban Grower’s Byron Smith says it starts with choosing the herbs you like to eat, but the most common and easiest ones to grow are coriander, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and spearmint.

The other thing about herb gardens is that you don’t need a huge amount of space, let alone a backyard. Smith suggests getting creative by hanging baskets, small pots, or planter boxes along the fence or hand rails. Community gardens have also been popping; not only is it a chance to grow your herbs, but it’s a great way to get to know your neighbours, too.

Now that you know the basics, the tough bit is keeping your herb garden alive.  Smith’s top three tips are:

Soil

Buy premium potting mix, and always look for the Australian Standard (the small red and white logo). Searles Vegetable and Herb Potting Mix is awesome.

Sun

They need at least six hours of sunshine for healthy growth, and to bounce back after you harvest them.

Water

Give your pots a big drink so it flows out the bottom of the pot, rather than a lazy half cup that just wets the surface. Use a seaweed extract like Seasol or Eco Seaweed every fortnight.

Once the leaves of your herbs are sprouting in abundance, it’s time to give them the snip.

“Herbs generally bush out and become thicker when the tips are cut. For example, the lateral shoots of rosemary, thyme, and oregano produce two stems from the one after cutting,” Smith says.

“Herbs like coriander and parsley grow from a centre rosette, so best to cut from the edges and let the middle keep growing up and out.”

After growing the basics, and you’re thinking about taking your herb garden to the next level, Smith says planting chervil and tea herbs such as chamomile are rewarding, too.

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